Here’s a conversation I had yesterday with a stranger:
“We’ve noticed your son walking around here today.”
“Okay” I said.
“Yes, he is.”
“Say, is he reading that book?”
“Yes, he is.”
“So, he’s high-functioning?”
“Listen, I am willing to take time out of my day to explain something to you.”
Genuinely pleased she said: “Thank you!”
That was easier than I thought.
“Okay, listen up, “high-function” and “low-function” is crap. That’s something The Man– you look old enough to remember The Man, am I correct?”
She nodded: “Yes.”
“Okay, so, The Man, says we’re not going to invest our time in teaching certain people so we will come up with some crappy way to absolve ourselves and blame the student. Hence: high or low functioning.”
“I know just what you’re talking about!” she exclaimed.
Her enthusiastic response embolden me. It might be hard to believe but I wasn’t done being bold.
“We home-school because in school he was the recipient of mostly low-functioning teachers, aides and school administrators. I’m a high-functioning teacher so I teach reading and everything else.”
“It’s the System that’s low-functioning!,”she said.
“There you go!”
“We have one of him in our family, a niece.”
“One of him?” I asked, “You mean someone who is super good-looking?”
“No one ever taught her to read” she said, “And now she’s 32 years-old and pretends to read the Bible at church.”
“That’s awful. That’s a crying shame.”
“Her mother, my sister-in-law, is a teacher.”
“It’s not too late for her to learn to read” I offered, “There are people who can’t read at all ages. Just think of her as a person who can’t read– like any person.”
“We need more high-functioning teachers” she said resignedly.
I left thinking her niece would never be taught more than she knows right now.